Top Notch thinking from the Duck

Dr. Nexon’s latest post on the Georgia conflict is so excellent, that it defies description. I’ll just post this “update” he later added to the bottom of it, to show the sort of insightful, behind-the-news thinking that he applies to the Georgia situation

The Duck of Minerva
One more thought: I can’t help wondering if one of the ironies of the Russians having effectively kicked out American oil companies is that the United States, unlike Germany, has no large domestic commercial lobby in favor of good relations with Russia. Contrast with a far more authoritarian country: the People’s Republic of China.

Read the whole thing.

Tom, Russia, Georgia

Three recent articles linked to by Tom present some interesting perspectives on on Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

Edward Luttwak, “Georgia conflict: Moscow has blown away soft power,” is deceptively titled. The subject is perfectly right, but the analysis is wrong. Russia’s President Putin has indeed destroyed his country’s soft power. But the article makes the same mistake that Putin does, saying

It was in that other world of “soft power” that has just ended that the admission of both Georgia and the Ukraine to NATO was being rapidly prepared. That was precisely the strategic setting of an attack on Georgia’s independence by the former Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Sadly, Tom doesn’t pick up on this, and instead makes a strange analogy to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As far as I can understand the analogy, Tom’s arguing that Russia naturally supports a policy of assassinating and removing foreign critics of the regime, and that attempts to change this behavior are futile.

Another piece with a great title nd so-so-writing is Spengler’s “Americans play Monopoly, Russians chess.” My first reaction was of course. Chess is a zero-sum bipolar game in which there is no economy: Monopoly is won only by increasing your wealth to the extent that, in real life, you could easily buy off your opponents and leave everyone better off than they were before. But no. Spengler mistakes Putin for a very smart man, correctly diagnoses Russia’s fall into demographic irrelevancy, and concludes with a list of mixed-up priorities. Spengler even shows himself to be one of those gun control nuts–on the international level, that is)“!m A very disappointing piece. Tom’s contribution is to call Ukraine and Georgia “immature/pseudo-democracies,” by which I assume he means client states that Putin managed to alienate so much that they have begun importing European rulesets.

Lastly is “The Russians doing joint ops right,” which appears to be a recognition of high-level Russian competence in the war, even if their attempts have been largely betrayed by an unprofessional and violent ground force Tom’s reaction is to praise the Russians for their ability to fight a long war against radical extremism, as if generating hatred on the ground and maximizing one own’s energy-export revenue are signs of being a viable partner..

India, unrelated to Pakistan

Michael sent me a fascinating article about the continuing Muslim insurgency against India, and India’s strategy of just-ignoring-it. It’s a fascinating approach, and similar (so I’ve heard) to India’s strategy against the Maoists in the east: ignore them. As I understand it, India is making a concerted effort to be and to act in relation to its regional neighbor China, instead of its physical neighbors Pakistan and Nepal. To use the word association game, India wants you to think of “India-China,” not “India-Pakistan” or “India-Nepal”:

Unfazed by bombings, India has an option: peace –
NEW DELHI — With a deadly attack on its embassy in Afghanistan, Pakistani troops clashing with its soldiers in disputed Kashmir and Islamic militants bombing its cities, India has in recent months seemed a country under siege.

Just don’t ask it to live like one.

Its ancient markets are as packed as ever. Its bright new malls bustle as never before. And few talk of avenging attacks that just a few years ago would likely have brought South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals to the brink of war.

This must be coming as some political cost. India is losing as many lives as another Muslim-inspired insurgency: Iraq. (Though obviously in both Islam is an enabling, if not a driving, force.)

Still, the attacks have done little to alter life for most Indians, as terror-related deaths only account for a fraction of India’s 1.1 billion people. The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center reported 3,674 deaths from January 2004 to March 2007, second only to Iraq.

The partition of British South Asia, by removing a great number of Muslims from the Union of India, may be paying off. While we cannot roll-back history, it’s easy to see how disastrous life would be in India if it had 170 million more Muslims! In this way, the partition of British India reminds one of the end of the Cold War, where the European nations best suited to globalization (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, etc.) leaving the dead-weight of Russia behind.

Of course, this progress may be reversed. In Europe, weakness to Russia may encourage Russian diplomatic, financial, and economic control over Europe, retarding economic growth and helping pull west Eurasia off-line. In South Asia, Pakistan is relatively weaker, but >certain psychopathic proposals such as encouraging mass (non-token) people movement from Pakistan to India would only make the situation worse.

One of the breakthroughs of work on the Core and the Gap is that there is techniques that work perfectly well with the Core do not work in the Gap, and a focus on “justice” (which is part of the normal judicial process in the Core) only drags the Gap deeper into a self-referential spiral of despair.

The future, not the past, is the watch-word of the Core. When the Gap speaks, we close our ears, as we must. When the Gap attacks, we ignore when we can, we destroy what we must, and firewall the rest. When we integrate the Gap, it is on the basis of profit, not justice.